Submitted by Lopez Community Land Trust
“People come to Lopez for the beauty, but they stay because of the community.” Living on an island means that we depend more on our neighbors. Who is more important to every Lopezian than the ferry dock workers: one of the friendliest long term employees at Lopez Ferry Landing is Sue McCullough. McCullough, like so many Lopezian wage earners, has had a variety of jobs on Lopez, including gardening, short order cooking, and selling real estate. In order for her to continue living on this island that she loves, where she has raised her children, and now nurtures her grandson, she needs secure affordable housing. Sue lives in a home at the Innisfree cooperative – the third neighborhood developed by Lopez Community Land Trust in 2003.
Over the years, seniors on fixed incomes and wage earners alike eagerly await the creation of an affordable dwelling unit. There is the misconception, however, that when a new LCLT home is built, it will free up one of the few existing rentals on Lopez. Unfortunately, seven times out of 10 that is not the case. This year three new cottages were built by LCLT and occupied in February, and not a single rental unit opened. One household was temporarily living with family, one was moving because her rental was being sold and the other lived in an unheated and unimproved shed. In prior years people have moved out of travel trailers, a friend’s house, an unimproved outbuilding, teepees and the like. Furthermore, existing rentals are now being converted to vacation rentals through online companies such as VACASA, Airbnb and VRBO.
As LCLT’s fourth decade comes into view, an ever-growing number of Lopezians recognize the positive effects of affordable housing and reflect back over the years and try to imagine life on Lopez without the organizational efforts of LCLT. They understand that the residents, who helped build their homes with sweat equity, are many of the ones that make this community hum. They work at Bonnie’s Deli, give massages; create and volunteer at Take It or Leave It and the award-winning recycle plaza;sell you fudge; and offer Friday-night wine tastings and Taverna Tuesdays, or Taco Fridays. They created Isabel’s coffee shop, opened the Lopez Bike Shop, and built and operated a first-class organic food grocery.
When people have secure housing, they often have time and space to give back to the community through volunteering as emergency medical technicians; for the fire department; home care; the Lopez library; tutoring and mentoring; doing research; planting trees; and more.
The meats made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture certified mobile slaughter unit are brought to you through the efforts of LCLT, as is the Farm Products Guide that directs residents and visitors alike to locally grown food. The local school gains interns for the LIFE Garden Program and the bookshop proudly features the beautiful bounty book produced by LCLT.
LCLT is grateful for all the efforts of Lopezians over the past 30 years to provide 49 affordable homes and one working farm into “trust.” “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”